SLO is buying 266 acres of open space — and new hiking trails could be on the way

Fly over SLO’s new open space near the Cuesta Grade

San Luis Obispo has purchased 266 acres of La Cuesta Ranch for use as open space. The property is located between the Cuesta Grade and Poly Canyon.
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San Luis Obispo has purchased 266 acres of La Cuesta Ranch for use as open space. The property is located between the Cuesta Grade and Poly Canyon.

New outdoor recreation opportunities will soon be available in the San Luis Obispo area with the city’s purchase of a 266-acre area of open space east of Cal Poly.

The SLO City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a $1.3 million deal to purchase a portion of the 1,400-acre Miossi Brothers La Cuesta Ranch property.

The city and property owners are in escrow, and the transaction is expected to officially close Sept. 26, said Bob Hill, the city’s interim deputy director of the Office of Sustainability.

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A springtime view looks over some of the 266 acres of La Cuesta Ranch land purchased by the city of San Luis Obispo as open space. Bob Hill

The city’s first priority will be to protect the natural habitat, including watersheds and wildlife, said City Manager Derek Johnson. But the land that sits in Cuesta Canyon west of Highway 101 will also be evaluated for potential pathways for hiking, birdwatching and mountain biking, Johnson said.

Falcons, mountain lions, black bears and steelhead trout include some of the animals spotted on the land in Cuesta Canyon, according to a city staff report.

The property borders Stagecoach Road near the grade on Highway 101 and Poly Canyon. The city will explore connections to hiking trails in the Poly Canyon area. Night hiking is not being considered there, Johnson said.

San Luis Obispo Creek, which runs through the property, includes rare plants and vegetation, Hill said. The land is in county jurisdiction, but it’s included in the city’s greenbelt boundary, which extends outside the city limits.

“This acquisition represents the keystone piece of the conservation vision set forth for the Cuesta Canyon area to protect its outstanding wildlife and natural resource values,” Hill said. “The city of San Luis Obispo has established a proud legacy of land protection and responsible public use of open space lands.”

About $1 million from the city’s Open Space Acquisition Protection Funds will go toward the purchase, along with an expected $200,000 grant from the state’s Habitat Conservation Fund and $100,000 from a private donation from the Forbes Family.

The $1.3 million value of the property was determined by an appraiser.

The Miossi family has long held the four parcels that make up the acquisition. The family immigrated from Canton Ticino, Switzerland, in the 1800s and established Cuesta Ranch in 1917. Currently, third and fourth generations of family members operate and steward the land, according to city officials.

“The Miossis are happy to be able to create more open space in SLO County,” Gabriel Miossi, one of the owners, told The Tribune by phone Wednesday.

As part of the deal, the Miossi family will retain access easement through the property for emergencies and maintenance as well as rights to an existing cellular telecommunications facility on a small corner of the property, as well as 10-year grazing rights.

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